Rafael Benitez Is Building Liverpool Football Club Not Destroying It

Jamie WardSenior Analyst IFebruary 15, 2010

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 20:  A Liverpool fan shows his support for Liverpool Manager Rafael Benitez during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on January 20, 2010 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

The clock is ticking for many Liverpool supporters as they must surely feel time is running out to win the Premier League. Listening to some fans as they foam at the mouth, you would wager your house that we only have two or three years left before English football ceases to exist.

There is no long term plan anymore for an alarmingly growing number of modern day fans, and when a few years do pass and there is no constant dominance of every team in sight; even the followers with a little more patience than a two year old seem to get swept away on a sea of media hype and over-expectation fuelled by historical tales and triumphs of two decades ago.

Just because Liverpool was one of the most successful clubs in the world during the 70's and 80's, doesn't mean we have some divine right to win trophies. Especially when the club in the modern era considerably fall behind more financially powerful organizations who can pay bigger wages and buy more expensive players.

Most people would laugh if someone insisted that a 1977 Aston Martin V8 Vantage (considered Britain's first super-car during the 70's and 80's) could outrun an Ultimate Aero, Bugatti Veyron, and a Saleen S7 (the three fastest hyper-cars in the world in 2010)

So why should Benitez be expected to work miracles with Liverpool when other clubs are light years ahead in many different aspects?

But it doesn't stop with the fans claiming "we should be winning" simply "because we are Liverpool, the most successful club in England."

It is certainly no stretch of the imagination to believe that some fair-weather supporters get anxious and impatient because the green eyed monster drives them to the edge of sanity, before they are eagerly pushed over by agenda driven newspapers. 

Some fans seem hell-bent on having the opportunity to wave a trophy win in the face of rival supporters who mock them at work, school, or on the Internet.

Extremists constantly bemoan the Spaniard has had five seasons and he still hasn't brought home the Premier League, therefore by some unwritten law known only to a number of Liverpool supporters and the rest of the bandwagoners; he must be shipped out of Anfield immediately.

Past success and clear progression under Benitez mean little because it really is that simple for some; No League title, no chance of our support.

Benitez may have possessed a five year plan when he arrived at Anfield in 2004, but that doesn't mean his goals will automatically be achieved within that time frame. Nobody can predict the future and hindsight is a stick that many will beat the manager with on a regular basis.

Who could have said for certain that Manchester City would be so heavily backed by ridiculously wealthy owners? Or that Hicks and Gillett would promise so much, yet deliver so little when it mattered most? or the effect Roman Abramovich's billions would have on the league and it's transfer and wage outlay?

These are not excuses peddled by sun shiners or Rafa supporters who are said to live in fantasy land when defending the manager, these are some of the clear reasons for the best laid schemes of mice and men when they don't turn out how we hoped.

Coupled with proven research that shows success more often than not comes from high wages and expensive squads; how Benitez is expected to over achieve on a constant basis when financial backing puts Liverpool at fifth place in regards to both wages and squad cost; makes you realise which group of followers in the Rafa Benitez war are the ones living in fantasy land. 

But it doesn't stop at a lack of domestic title for some. Apparently Benitez is destroying Liverpool by building a group of mediocre players no better than the bunch of misfits he inherited, and the club has actually gone backwards during his five and a half year reign.

Whoever claims that Liverpool have gone backwards since Benitez took over or the current squad is of a lesser quality than Houllier's final season is failing miserably to hide an obvious agenda against the Spaniard.

It has taken Benitez a lot of time, hard work, a little luck, and a clever transfer policy to bring the quality of the first eleven up to a considerably high standard, with a great many players chased by some of the world's best sides.

It's definitely not perfect, and neither is Rafael Benitez, but we're a damn site closer than we have been in a very, very long time.

Just ask Alex Ferguson who's petty behaviour towards our manager over the past couple of seasons proves he is getting a little edgy up on his perch.

With the club's regained dominance of Europe (ranked as the number one team over five years) and the recent domestic league progression (the best points haul ever achieved since 1990); the proof is there for all to see.

But without a Premier League trophy in the cabinet it is easy for fans, rivals, and money driven media agendas led by so called expert pundits to point the finger and ignore the bigger picture.

Sometimes Liverpool have taken two steps forward and one step backwards on the pitch (one step forward, a bus ride backwards off the field) but there is without doubt in my mind a clear progression under the stewardship of the current Liverpool manager.

With an enviable line-up containing Reina, Carragher, Johnson, Agger, Mascherano, Gerrard, and Torres, plus key contributions from players like Kuyt and Benayoun, the superlatives are clear.

Ridiculous and unnecessary pressure is mounting and time is running out for some as it almost looks like some Kopites believe we can only win the league with Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher in the side. But what many intent on dislodging Benitez from his position forget to notice is the current Liverpool team have the second youngest average age in the league behind Arsenal.

Losing Gerrard and Carragher to retirement without winning the title would be a sad outcome for two of the club's most respected contributors, but it does not spell the end of Liverpool's chance to win the Premier League.

Benitez has built a strong team of players who are yet to fulfill potential with Pepe Reina approaching his goalkeeping peak and Johnson, Agger, Mascherano, Lucas, Aquilani, Babel, Ngog, Insua, and Skrtel all under 25. The average age of great sides are usually between 27 and 30.

The club is unable to produce £230million in two transfer windows or spend constantly large outlays over the course of three or four years in succession, or put the whole first 11 on £100,000 a week wages 9Gareth Barry is on the same wages as Fernando Torres) like the clubs we are supposed to be beating to the league title (and now a top four finish), so the manager has had to utilise a different tactic by upgrading players and selling for profit in order to fund bigger and better transfers.

Craig Bellamy's transfer fee and profit to purchase Fernando Torres for example, but this method takes time and patience and is obviously not an exact science that bears instant fruit.

It also doesn't help when your rebuilding for the new season and your club's owners decide not to give you any of the profit generated from player sales, but only notifying you of this half way through your plan with players yet to be purchased.

As Rafa approaches completion of his laborious upgrading program, examples like Chelsea's pursuit of Glen Johnson, the sale of Xabi Alonso for a £20million profit, and the reported figures for prying stars like Torres and Mascherano away from Anfield suggests the better quality players he is identifying for his long term plan are of the quality necessary to give us a better chance of toppling better funded and more established rivals.

The future is bright under the guidance of a proven quality manager such as Benitez but the modern day nature of instant success, massive over expectation, historical pressure, small-window criticism, and a failure to look at a bigger picture that changes on a constant basis means we might not get to witness a deserved title triumph, led by someone with more passion for this club than many so called Liverpool followers and ex-players turned scribes.

A clock can definitely be heard ticking on Merseyside but it really should not be the one belonging to Rafael Benitez. It's about time some fans stopped reading newspapers and started looking at the real reason why Liverpool are in the mess there in.

They need to start realising this before it's too late and the wrong person is forced out of Anfield while the real culprits are left holding the keys to the future of this once great club.


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